21 somewhat underrated things to love about campus

Celine Bellegarda/Senior Staff

As a Class of 2021 grad, I can definitely say going to UC Berkeley has been nothing short of an adventure. From seeing an inordinate amount of corgis to discovering fun spots on campus, here are 21– in honor of this year’s graduating class – somewhat underrated but incredible things about UC Berkeley’s campus, in no particular order. 

 

 

1. Seeing Oski … everywhere. 

 

If you do not spot Oski at sports games, you can catch the mascot out and about much more than you may realize — on a stroll through campus or in the City of Berkeley, always ready to dance or take some selfies. My friends and I have dozens of pictures with the legend at various spots on campus. 

2. And seeing bears … all over campus

 

You may remember this fun fact from orientation, but there are more than a dozen places that you can spot bears on campus, such as an etching of a bear on the bell of the Campanile. You may have to squint to spot all of them, but they are there! 

 

 

3. The seal people often miss 

You have also most likely heard the legend that if you step on UC Berkeley seals, especially those near Memorial Glade, you will not attain a high GPA. Yet, fewer people talk about the other seal in the middle of Sproul, the Free Speech Monument. The monument by the artist Mark Brest Van Kempen reads, “This soil and the air space extending above it shall not be a part of any nation and shall not be subject to any entity’s jurisdiction. 

 

 

 

4. The occasional, but not all together rare sighting of a celebrity 

 

Sometimes sports stars will come to see games. In February 2020, a friend and I were at a Cal baseball game. Little did we know when we first arrived that Golden State Warriors player Steph Curry was watching a Cal basketball game next door. Lots of Cal students came face to face with him that night. It was, in a word, epic.

 

 

5. Flyers on Sproul

 

Yes, this is controversial. Walking through Sproul, you are either the one handing out flyers, someone anxiously taking as many flyers as possible or keeping your head down as you pass every startup and consulting group, having been hardened across the years. Yet when all is said and done, the constant passing out of flyers and information at Sproul is really a part of the heart and soul of the campus. 

 

 

6. Squirrel hordes 

 

I should explain this first. If you walk the Berkeley campus long enough, you will see these bushy guys do some incredible things, such as travel together in crazy huge packs. I once saw a giant group of maybe 40 squirrels scurrying around the Valley Life Sciences Building. About 35 people or so stopped to see this. An unusual thing to like about Berkeley? Yes. Still impressive? Yup. 

 

 

7. Corgi hordes 

In the same way you may see a ton of squirrels on campus any given day, you could probably see groups of corgis, many of them therapy corgis. Nothing compares to the smile on a corgi’s face.

 

 

 

8. The curved bench at the north entrance to the Valley Life Science Building

 

This bench is probably one of the most underrated places at Berkeley. It has some of the coolest acoustics on campus. Sitting on the opposite end of the oval-shaped bench, a friend and I once heard a guitar on the other side perfectly. 

 

 

9. The VSLB courtyard: a prime study spot

 

Tucked away in the center of the VLSB Courtyard, this is such a fun and amazing place to work, the VSLB Courtyard often does not get the same clout as say Moffit, Doe or East Asian Library––probably because it is a little more hidden. 

 

 

10. The Essig Museum of Entomology Research and the UC Berkeley Museum of Paleontology in VLSB

 

Like VSLB Courtyard, these museums are a little underrated because they are a little hidden away. I had no idea the entomology one existed until discovering it sophomore year during a class trip. Definitely try visiting these museums if you want to learn some really cool science or history. 

 

 

11. Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology 

 

Also a little tucked away, the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology is home to some amazing galleries filled with incredible artifacts. 

 

 

12. Main Stacks 

 

The dead silence. Some people love it. Some people hate it. People who love it will say it is underrated. People that hate it will say it is overrated. That’s how it goes. But no matter what, you cannot deny that Main Stacks is a beautiful place, from the rows of books to the incredible skylights. 

 

 

13. Lightsaber duels on Memorial Glade 

 

If you have been to Memorial Glade lately, you have probably witnessed everything from Frisbee to spikeball. You have probably even seen the UC Berkeley Quidditch team playing with fervor. Have you seen the occasional group of Berkeley students playing with lightsabers? Nothing can compare to witnessing the unbridled freedom associated with these duels. Maybe we’ll even see the day when they use real ones. 

 

 

14. Unusual, but epic forms of transportation on campus

 

We’re not talking skateboards or bicycles here. This is next level. We may not think about it much, but students have taken anything from a unicycle to a hoverboard, among other fun modes of transportation, to get through campus. 

 

 

15. Every lawn and glade besides Memorial Glade 

 

Yes, I know. Memorial Glade is my favorite expanse of fresh grass on campus, too. Yet, while the Glade is soaking up all the glory, it is easy to miss some of the other fantastic spots such as Observatory Hill or the lawn near Hearst Mining Circle. 

 

 

16. Northgate Hall, Home to the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism 

 

I am admittedly swayed on this point by my love for Journalism, but regardless, North Gate is an incredible building with a beautiful interior courtyard. But did you know the hall was built by famous architect John Galen Howard? It originally housed the College of Architecture, and the City of Berkeley gave it landmark status in 1976. Howard designed many buildings on the UC Berkeley Campus, including Sather Tower and Wheeler Hall. He also employed a young Julia Morgan when she was first starting her career.

 

 

17. McCone Walk 

 

Speaking of Observatory Hill, you can studiously cut through it on a pathway called McCone Walk. This is a great place to take a private phone conversation or take a shortcut if you are heading for the west part of campus.

 

 

18. Projects in the College of Environmental Design 

 

It goes without saying that Wurster Hall library is incredibly popular. Yet, Wurster Hall is principally home to the College of Environmental Design. Sometimes you can spot some of the incredible designs or projects by students in this college in different parts of the building. 

 

 

19. Dwinelle Hall

 

Because it can be difficult to navigate, Dwinelle might not be everyone’s favorite building, but it has some seriously cool features. I once took a film class on the first floor in a room built like a mini movie theater! 

 

20. Evans Hall 

Like Dwinelle, Evans may not be everyone’s favorite building either. Some say its design clashes with the rest of the campus. Yet, so many incredible things in the way of math and science happen in this hall. Famous economists and professors David and Christina Romer have neighboring offices in Evans. Christina Romer served as Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors in the Obama Administration until September 2010. 

 

21. The Bathrooms in Li Ka Shing and Wheeler: The nicest on campus 

 Actually, students and visitors have already hyped up both of these buildings’ bathrooms in regards to cleanliness in past years. Yet to avoid one being rated over the other, I am listing them both here. 

Contact Kristen Hull at [email protected]